Monday, March 16, 2015

Statement on SB10, Public Integrity Unit

Statement by Craig McDonald.

 “SB 10 is a politicians dream, a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card for public officials. SB 10 creates a special legal system reserved for politicians only -- a system designed to end corruption prosecutions, not pursue them. 

The bill is another attack on local control by big government Republicans. It strips all county district attorneys of their traditional power to prosecute corruption within their own jurisdictions. It transfers that power directly to the Attorney General. 

Senator Huffman claims her bill will “restore public confidence” in corruption investigations and then hands those cases to a partisan attorney general, himself under a cloud of corruption allegations. In fact, punishing a corrupt politician under SB 10 requires the unanimous approval of the attorney general, the Texas Rangers, a state judge AND a district or county attorney SB 10 will likely breed more corruption by advertising the fact that there is no functioning deterrent.” 


Between 1978 and 2012 the Travis County Public Integrity Unit has pursued public corruption cases in a non-partisan fashion.  Of the 21 elected officials it has prosecuted, 15 were Democrats and six were Republicans.

Lobby Watch:
Public Integrity Hinges on Prosecutorial Independence

Surrounded by political corruption, leaders of Texas' ruling party are clamoring to transfer the Public Integrity Unit from the Travis County District Attorney to the Texas Attorney General.

An analysis of campaign contribution data finds that recent Public Integrity indictees Tom DeLay and Kino Flores had much more in common with recent Texas Attorneys General than they did with recent Travis County District Attorneys. 

A new Lobby Watch concludes that transferring the Public Integrity Unit would reward crooked politicians by undermining prosecutorial independence. Indeed, that may even be the legislative intent...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lobby Watch: Lobby Helped Straus Crush the Tea Party

Nineteen Texas House members started this session with a tea-party suicide vote against Speaker Straus (who appointed zero rebels to head House committees). Campaign data reveal that Austin's business lobby bankrolled the Straus loyalists who crushed the rebellion.

On average, rebels raised less money than the loyalists yet overcame more electoral opposition. With much less support from the institutional lobby, the rebels got 14% of their money from the intertwined Empower Texans and Accountability First PACs. The rebels also relied much more on individual contributors. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lobby Watch: Gamblers Debate Their Pedigrees

The casino and racetrack industries in Texas each wants a monopoly on slot machines. This feud recently intensified when a horse race advocate denounced the political skullduggery of the "deep pockets" behind "out-of-state casinos."
Apparently this complaint emanated from some orifice other than the horse’s mouth. Racetrack interests spent $7 million on Texas’ last election--or three times what Indian tribes and other casino interests spent.  It also turns out that many Texas racetracks are owned by those evil out-of-state casino companies.

Join LobbyWatch and the Marx Brothers for a romp through these Horse Feathers…

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lobby Watch: "Kommie" Burton & The Socialist Lobby

The tea party senator who recently banned tax-paid lobbyists from her office took campaign money from the public-sector lobby that she despises. Sen. 'Kommie' Burton even took money from lobbyists for the Marxist government of Venezuela!

Lobby Watch & Sen. Burton revive the Red Scare.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Prosecutor says Perry intended to obstruct
Public Integrity investigations

Special prosecutor Michael McCrum has updated the original indictment against former Governor Rick Perry, providing more detail on the actions and motivations behind Perry's veto of the Public Integrity Unit's budget. The updated indictments contend Perry's general disapproval of the watchdog's investigations prompted him to "obstruct the continued operation of the Public Integrity Unit."

Updated indictment is here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lobby Watch: A Moncrief Abandons An Abusive Lawsuit

Dick Moncrief's Moncrief Oil International dropped its 10-year lawsuit against Russian gas giant Gazprom this week after revelations that the plaintiff fabricated key trial evidence for its $1.4 billion claim. Reports of such lawsuit abuse may boost contributions to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, whose supporters include Dick Moncrief's legendary wildcatter father: W.A. 'Tex' Moncrief.
Read the new Lobby Watch.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lobby Watch: Empowered Senators Slash TEC Budget

Persistent rumors claim that Empower Texans--which is fighting the Texas Ethics Commission in court--pressured the Senate to slash that agency's budget. Empower is the top donor to Lieutenant Governor Patrick, while the No. 2 money source to three senators is either Empower or the group's founder.

A new Lobby Watch follows Empower's PAC, as well as the group's shadowy dark-money expenditures.
Read the new Lobby Watch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Post-Perry Corruption OP-ED in Austin Statesman

Austin American-Statesman
By Craig McDonald and Andrew Wheat

Cronyism and entitlement flourish when one political party controls every statewide office for 20 years. Indicted former Gov. Rick Perry created the ultimate crony-corrupt state. He rewarded political supporters with appointments, no-bid contracts and huge handouts from the public purse. The few people who stood up to this corruption notably don’t include Texas’ new leaders. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Statement re: Judge's Refusal to Dismiss Perry Charges

"Rick Perry, his high-priced legal team and out-of-state pundits have long argued that Perry's indictments are so flimsy that they will not stand up in court. Today a top GOP judge again refused to dismiss the case. The prosecutor and a grand jury have said there's compelling evidence against Perry. That evidence should be presented in court for all to see.  The chances of that happening improved today," said TPJ director Craig McDonald

Texans for Public Justice filed a criminal complaint against Perry in June of last year. That complaint led to Perry's indictment by a Texas grand jury on two counts related to his abuse of office.